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How to hotel halachically


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

We’re taking an extended road trip and stopping at several cheap motels along the way. Since we are only sleeping at these places, may we all pile into one room, despite the fact that it’s meant for two people only?

You are renting the hotel room based on the rules and regulations of the facility. Whatever they allow is halachically permitted; whatever they don’t allow is considered geneivas daas, which is a forbidden form of theft, regardless of whether or not the victim is Jewish.

We recently attended a huge shabbaton in a beautiful hotel. I was disturbed to see, though, that the place the hotel set aside for lighting Shabbos candles was in the lobby. Shouldn’t I be able to see the candles during the seudah?

Certainly it is halachically preferable for the candles to be seen and enjoyed during the seudah. However, for safety reasons, it’s common practice at almost all kosher hotel programs to have the women light candles at one central location in the hotel, generally in the lobby.

Since this is halachically problematic, women are advised to shut off and then turn on a Shabbos lamp or a night light in their own room (or bathroom) l’sheim Shabbos, and then immediately go downstairs and light candles in the designated area with the brachah. This way, the brachah is being recited over both the electric lights and the traditional candles. (One who disregards the hotel rules and lights candles in his private room is considered a thief; the lighting will be invalid, and the blessing will be considered a brachah l’vatalah.)

My nephew’s aufruf was held at a frum hotel. On Friday night, when we picked up the bottle of grape juice, we saw that the plastic cap hadn’t been opened beforehand. If we don’t open plastic bottles on Shabbos, are we allowed to hand it to the waiter, who will most likely just open it himself?

It’s permitted for you to ask a non-Jew or a nonreligious waiter to open the grape juice bottle (provided, of course, that it’s mevushal), since there are many contemporary poskim who permit opening a plastic bottle cap on Shabbos. Even if you personally follow the more stringent opinion, it does not restrict you from asking someone else to do so for you, as long as there is a reliable and accepted lenient opinion that permits it.

When dating in hotel lobbies, I’m never comfortable when the date goes on for hours. After all, we only buy one drink per person; aren’t we overstaying our welcome there?

While you probably are overstaying your welcome, it’s not forbidden for you to sit around the lobby as long as the hotel does not specifically ask you to leave.

I brought a package of cold cuts, opened it, and used some. The rest of the open package was in the hotel room fridge while the cleaning help was there. She may have opened the fridge to restock the drinks there. Am I allowed to eat the remaining cold cuts?

Although l’chatchilah one shouldn’t leave an open package of meat in an unsupervised refrigerator, if you can recognize that the meat in the fridge is the same package you left there, it is permissible to eat the meat, even if you know for certain that the cleaning help opened the fridge in the interim.

Contrary to what some people think, the only time that kosher meat that was left unsupervised becomes forbidden to eat is if one entrusts a non-Jew with safekeeping or delivering meat, and then has grounds to believe that the non-Jew “profited” from the meat — e.g., the non-Jew took some of the kosher meat, sold it to a Jew as kosher (expensive) meat, and then replaced it with less expensive non-kosher meat to cover his tracks.

In your case, if the cleaning help decided to “steal” your cold cuts, they would not replace it with non-kosher cold cuts. The meat, therefore, is permitted to be eaten, as long as it looks like the package you left.

We love using points to upgrade our hotel stays. One thing I’ve always wondered: Are we allowed to take home the extra unused fancy soaps and samples they provide?

Extra soaps and shampoos that are available to be used and consumed while in the hotel may be taken home if they weren’t used during your stay. Towels, hangers, pillows, irons, and anything else meant to be used but not consumed during your stay may not be taken with you when you leave.  


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 805)

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